Pierre
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Pierre : Or the Ambiguities

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Description

'Ambiguities indeed! One long brain-muddling, soul-bewildering ambiguity (to borrow Mr. Melville's style), like Melchisedeck, without beginning or end-a labyrinth without a clue - an Irish bog without so much as a Jack o'the'lantern to guide the wanderer's footsteps - the dream of a distempered stomach, disordered by a hasty supper on half-cooked pork chops." So judged the New York Herald when Pierre was first published in 1852, with most contemporary reviewers joining in the general condemnation: 'a dead failure,' 'this crazy rigmarole,' and "a literary mare's nest." Latter-day critics have recognized in the story of Melville's idealistic young hero a corrosive satire of theshow more

Product details

  • Paperback | 416 pages
  • 128 x 196 x 20mm | 299.37g
  • Penguin Books Ltd
  • PENGUIN CLASSICS
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • Reprint
  • 0140434844
  • 9780140434842
  • 207,809

Back cover copy

"Ambiguities indeed! One long brain-muddling, soulbewildering ambiguity (to borrow Mr. Melville's style), like Melchisedeck without beginning or end - a labyrinth without a clue - an Irish bog without so much as a Jack o' th'-lantern to guide the wanderer's footsteps - the dream of a distempered stomach, disordered by a hasty supper on half-cooked pork chops". So judged the New York Herald when Pierre was first published in 1852, with most contemporary reviewers joining in the general condemnation: "a dead failure", "this crazy rigmarole", and "a literary mare's nest". Latter-day critics have recognized in the story of Melville's idealistic young hero a corrosive satire of the sentimental-Gothic novel, and a revolutionary foray into modernist literary techniques. As William Spengemann writes in his introduction to this edition, "For anyone who, being aware of the culture of modernity, is curious about its origins, Pierre ranks with Coleridge's 'Rime of the Ancient Mariner, ' Carlyle's Sartor Resartus, Hawthorne's Scarlet Letter, and the poems of Emily Dickinson as one of the privileged places where the dead past can be seen giving way inexorably to the living present".show more

About Herman Melville

Herman Melville (1819-91) became in his late twenties a highly successful author of exotic novels based on his experiences as a sailor - writing in quick succession Typee, Omoo, Redburn and White-Jacket. However, his masterpiece Moby-Dick was met with incomprehension and the other later works which are now the basis of his reputation, such as Bartleby, the Scrivener and The Confidence-Man, were failures. Melville stopped writing fiction and the rest of his long life was spent first as a lecturer and then, for nineteen years, as a customs official in New York City. He was also the author of the immensely long poem Clarel, which was similarly dismissed. At the end of his life he wrote Billy Budd, Sailor which was published posthumously in 1924.show more